Here is the second half of Schlockmania’s look at Season 2 of Miami Vice, which found this trendsetting show at its peak of popularity. The five episodes discussed below find the show developing its unique style and often experimenting with subject matter, tone and storytelling in interesting ways.
Phil The Shill: Miami Vice did periodic episodes with a comedy bent throughout much of its series run. Some of them were a little too broad for their own good but this one goes for a subtler tone and is the best of the bunch. Phil Collins is the guest star here, giving a sly performance as a con artist who scams everyone from Switek to some local drug dealers. The result has a vibe reminiscent of a Carl Hiaasen novel and also makes excellent use of Martin Ferrero as side character Izzy, who has great comedic chemistry with Collins. Note: Collins also provides the memorable theme music for a faux game show featured in the episode.
Definitely Miami: This one is a big fan favorite. During some undercover work, Crockett becomes involved with a mysterious blond (Arielle Dombasle). Meanwhile, their work gets complicated by a killer/thief (Ted Nugent!) who scams dealers for money before killing them. Superb, highly cinematic direction by Rob Cohen really makes this one special: he pulls off a unique balancing act between the dreamlike, surreal vibe of the romance scenes and some striking action scenes in a sand quarry. Best of all, there’s a dazzling music-driven closing sequence set to Godley & Creme’s “Cry.” Unexpected highlight: the opening dialogue includes a reference to Samuel Beckett!
Little Miss Dangerous: Miami Vice was not afraid to go dark with themes and subject matter but this episode really pushed the envelope in both areas. Tubbs takes the lead in this episode, trying to help a sex show performer and prostitute (pop star Fiona) get out of that life. He doesn’t know that she is also a mentally disturbed serial killer who is murdering her johns and his concern will make him the next target. This one captures a sleazy, downbeat vibe without breaking network rules on content and builds to a really intense, disturbing ending scored with a Public Image Ltd. song. Fiona gives a subtle performance that covers the gamut from soulful to scary here: it’s sad she didn’t do more acting.
The Fix: This is one of the more low-key episodes from this season and finds an oddly poignant variation on the show’s familiar theme of crime corrupting the decent. A judge (Bill Russell) attracts the scrutiny of Crockett and Tubbs when he begins making questionable decisions on the bench. They investigate him and discover that this is no simple case of profit-motivated corruption. This episode is light on action, focusing instead on the ripple effects of corruption in the system and within a family, but it builds to a haunting ending. Russell carries this approach with a subtle, poignant performance and a young Michael Richards appears in a convincing, non-comedic turn as a mobster.
Sons And Lovers: The season finale harkens back to the classic “Calderone’s Return” two-parter from last season by reuniting Tubbs with his lost love Angela Calderone (Phanie Napoli). Unfortunately, she is trailed by her vengeful brother, Orlando (a young John Leguizamo), who has put a contract out on Tubbs. This episode really works the audience over, delivering both compelling romantic drama and tense action, including a shocker of a ending. Leguizamo makes a real impression here and the closing moments offer a nice setup for the change in tone the series would experience in its next season.
For the first half of Schlockmania’s look at Miami Vice Season 2, click here.